In prison since 1996, NJ men freed after doubt cast on homicide case
TRENTON — Two men serving life sentences for a double killing 25 years ago, but whose convictions were recently thrown out because of evidence that cast doubt on their guilt, celebrated with relatives and friends after they walked out of prison.
Loved ones of Kevin Baker and Sean Washington waited for hours for their release Wednesday outside of New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.
A state appeals court ruled last month that new evidence cast doubt on the guilty verdicts against the pair, who were convicted of killing two people outside a Camden housing project in January 1995. The Camden County prosecutor's office announced this month that it would not seek to retry the men.
Baker and Washington had been serving life sentences with no parole eligibility for 60 years.
Some of the evidence used to overturn their convictions wasn't available at their trial: for instance, specialized testing not in common use at the time led one expert to conclude in 2013 that the bullets had struck the ground and ricocheted before hitting one of the victims, contradicting the one eyewitness' account of the shooting.
Other evidence could have been used but wasn't, according to court documents. Alibi witnesses for both men weren't called to testify, nor was a man who told police he was with the eyewitness and cast doubt on whether she saw the shooting.
Washington also contended he made a 911 call after noticing the two victims when he left a relative's house to use a pay phone.
At a hearing in 2016, he testified no one obtained a copy of the call until 2013. His trial lawyer admitted he hadn’t known of the tape, according to court documents.
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